Friday, March 28, 2008

History of english language teaching - Free Essay -

History of english language teaching


Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This term is predominantly used when English is being taught in a country where it isn’t the native language (for example teaching English to Spanish people in Spain).

For various historical and economic reasons, English has become the dominant language of the world in the twenty-first century. English is the language of science, air traffic control, and tourism, the Internet and to a very large extent of trade and export. According to the British Council at least one billion people speak or are trying to speak English at the present time and of those about 300 million people are actively studying the English language.


Method Teacher Roles Learner Roles Situational Language Teaching Context SetterError Corrector ImitatorMemorizer Audio-lingualism Language ModelerDrill Leader Pattern PracticerAccuracy Enthusiast Communicative Language Teaching Needs AnalystTask Designer ImprovisorNegotiator Total Physical Response CommanderAction Monitor Order TakerPerformer Community Language Learning CounselorParaphraser CollaboratorWhole Person The Natural Approach ActorProps User GuesserImmerser Suggestopedia Auto-hypnotistAuthority Figure RelaxerTrue-Believer

History of English language teaching

In the Western world back in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, foreign language learning was associated with the learning of Latin and Greek, both supposed to promote their speakers' intellectuality. At the time, it was of vital importance to focus on grammatical rules, syntactic structures, along with rote memorization of vocabulary and translation of literary texts. There was no provision for the oral use of the languages under study; after all, both Latin and Greek were not being taught for oral communication but for the sake of their speakers' becoming "scholarly?" or creating an illusion of "erudition." Late in the nineteenth century, the Classical Method came to be known as the Grammar Translation Method, which offered very little beyond an insight into the grammatical rules attending the process of translating from the second to the native language.

The Grammar Translation Method The Grammar Translation Method dominated FLT in the 19th century and in some respects continues to be influential in FLT up to this day. Proponents of this method believe that learning a foreign language is achieved through the constant and fast translation of sentences from the target language into the learner’s first language and vice versa. Correct translations of written texts require (a) knowledge of a vast amount of vocabulary, and (b) knowledge of rules of grammar, which allow learners to analyse and understand the construction of target language sentences, thus preventing their misinterpretation. Word by word translations were popular because by them students could demonstrate that they understood the grammatical construction underlying a specific sentence.

It is typical of this approach, therefore, to place emphasis on the rote memory learning of long lists of bilingual ‘vocabulary equations’, and on the learning of explicit rules of grammar, frequently in form of tables for the declension and conjugation of nouns and verbs. In the eyes of proponents of the Grammar Translation Method vocabulary learning required diligence and the analysis of the grammatical construction of sentences required intelligence. Learners who failed to do translations correctly where therefore blamed for being either not intelligent or lazy or both. In any case, errors were to not be tolerated. And because many people feel, up to this day, that learning a foreign language means learning to translate sentences from the mother tongue into the target language and vice versa, this approach to FLT still has its adherents.

The Grammar Translation Method has its historical origins in the teaching of Latin, which was the dominant language in universities, the public services and intellectual life in general from medieval times up to the 19th century. Knowledge of Latin was needed for the study of the bible and for academic purposes like the study of medical books and legal documents. In Latin studies the focus was, therefore, on the study of written texts. Knowledge of Latin distinguished ‘educated people’ from ordinary folks. Study of the canon of classical texts from well-known ancient authors like Ovid and Cicero was considered morally and aesthetically edifying and superior to anything which the study of modern languages could afford. Speaking Latin played a subordinate role because it was a ‘dead language’ and because there were no authentic living people who could serve as a model for its phonetically correct pronunciation. It was not before the year 1886 that linguists like Wilhelm Vietor, Henry Sweet, and Daniel Jones created the International Phonetic Alphabet for the phonetic description of sounds in different languages.

When in the late 19th century, mainly for political, economic, military, and other practical purposes, some people proposed that in public schools the study of modern languages like French and English should be introduced, it stood beyond question that their teaching had to be based on the methods used for the study of Latin. The focus was on the study of written texts, therefore, and the learners' first language was the language used in foreign language classes. Studying a foreign language was considered something like an intellectual exercise, and the analysis of complicated grammatical constructions and the translation of rows of isolated sentences in both directions was the test by which students could be shamed or show their superior cognitive abilities. Failure to produce correct answers was considered a sign of indolence or inferior intellectual qualities and might provoke physical punishment

Grammar Translation Method The grammar - translation method is derived from traditional approaches to the teaching of Latin and Greek in the nineteenth century.

The students are to develop the ability to read prestigious literary texts. They should also learn to read and write the target language accurately.

Its main features are:

· A meticulous analysis of the target written language, especially its grammar
· Grammar rules are presented and studied explicitly
· Vocabulary is learnt from bilingual word lists
· A paramount use of translation exercises
· The mother tongue is used as the medium of instruction
· Hardly any attention is paid to speaking and listening skills
· To develop logical thinking
· to develop intellectual capacities and to have a generally educational and civilising effect
· To develop, at least in the better learners, an ability to read original texts in the languages concerned
· To improve the standard of learners' L1

Nevertheless, this approach to language learning was short-lived and, only a generation later, gave place to the Direct Method, posited by Charles Berlitz. The basic tenet of Berlitz's method was that second language learning is similar to first language learning. In this light, there should be lots of oral interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no translation, and little if any analysis of grammatical rules and syntactic structures

The Direct Method enjoyed great popularity at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth but it was difficult to use, mainly because of the constraints of budget, time, and classroom size. Yet, after a period of decline, this method has been revived, leading to the emergence of the Audiolingual Method.

The outbreak of World War II heightened the need for Americans to become orally proficient in the languages of their allies and enemies alike. To this end, bits and pieces of the Direct Method were appropriated in order to form and support this new method, the "Army Method," which came to be known in the 1950s as the Audiolingual Method.

The Audiolingual Method was based on linguistic and psychological theory and one of its main premises was the scientific descriptive analysis of a wide assortment of languages. On the other hand, conditioning and habit-formation models of learning put forward by behaviouristic phychologists were married with the pattern practices of the Audiolingual Method. The following points sum up the characteristics of the method

The Direct Method The direct method is developed as a reaction against the grammar-translation method.

Its main features are:

  • Only use the target language in class
  • The learner should be actively involved in using the language in realistic everyday situations
  • Students are encouraged to think in the target language
  • First speaking is taught and then only reading and writing

    The Audio-lingual method


    The audio-lingual method was widely used in the United States and other countries in the 1950's and 1960's. It is still used in some programs today. Approach Theory of language

    The Structural view of language is the view behind the audio-lingual method. Particular emphasis was laid on mastering the building blocks of language and learning the rules for combining them.

    Theory of learning
    · language learning is habit-formation
    · mistakes are bad and should be avoided, as they make bad habits
    · language skills are learned more effectively if they are presented orally first, then in written form
    · analogy is a better foundation for language learning than analysis
    · the meanings of words can be learned only in a linguistic and cultural context
    · Accurate pronunciation and grammar
    · Ability to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations
    · Knowledge of sufficient vocabulary to use with grammar patterns.
    The syllabus
    Audiolingualism uses a structural syllabus
    · Types of learning techniques and activities
    · Dialogues
    · Drills
    · Students hear a model dialogue
    · Students repeat each line of the dialogue
    · Certain key words or phrases may be changed in the dialogue
    · Key structures from thedialogue serveas the basis for pattern drills of different kinds.
    The students practice substitutions in the pattern drills But its popularity waned after 1964, partly because of Wilga Rivers's exposure of its shortcomings. It fell short of promoting communicative ability as it paid undue attention to memorisation and drilling, while downgrading the role of context and world knowledge in language learning. After all, it was discovered that language was not acquired through a process of habit formation and errors were not necessarily bad or pernicious.

    Communicative language teaching Communicative language teaching began in Britain in the 1960s as a replacement to the earlier structural method, called Situational Language Teaching. This was partly in response to Chomsky's criticisms of structural theories of language and partly based on the theories of British functional linguistis, such as Firth and Halliday, as well as American sociolinguists, such as Hymes , Gumperz and Labov and the writings of Austin and Searle on speech acts. Approach

    Theory of language The functional view of language is the primary one behind the communicative method, as well as Theory of learning Not a great deal has been written about the learning theory behind the communicative approaches, but here are some principlesthat may be inferred

    · activities that involve real communication promote learning
    · activities in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks promote learning
    · language that is meaningful to the learner promotes learning
    Students will learn to use language as a means of expression
    · Students will use language as a means of expressing values and judgments
    · Students will learn to express the functions that best meet their own communication needs.
    The syllabus
    Communicative language teaching often uses a functional-notional syllabus. Yalden(1987) has classified a number of communicative syllabus types.
    Types of learning techniques and activities
    Communicative language teaching uses almost any activity that engages learners in authentic communication. Littewood, however has distinguished two major activity types:
    · functional communication activities: ones aimed at developing certain language skillsand functions, but which involve communication, and
    · social interaction activities, such as conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role plays

    The Natural Approach The Natural Approach was developed by Tracy Terrell and Stephen Krashen, starting in 1977. It came to have a wide influence in language teaching in the United States and around the world. Approach

    Theory of language The Communicative view of language is the view behind the Natural Approach. Particular emphasis is laid on language as a set of messages that can be understood. Theory of learning The Natural Approach is based on the following tenets:

    · Language acquisition (an unconscious process developed through using language meaningfully) is different from language learning (consciously learning or discovering rules about a language) and language acquisition is the only way competence in a second language occurs. (The acquisition/learning hypothesis)
    · Conscious learning operates only as a monitor or editor that checks or repairs the output of what has been acquired. (The monitor hypothesis)
    · Grammatical structures are acquired in a predictable order and it does little good to try to learn them in another order.(The natural order hypothesis).
    · People acquire language best from messages that are just slightly beyond their current competence. (The input hypothesis)
    · The learner's emotional state can act as a filter that impedes or blocks input necessary to acquisition. (The affective filter hypothesis)
    Here are some of the objectives of the Natural Approach
    · it is designed to help beginner become intermediates
    · It is designed to depend on learner needs
    The syllabus
    The syllabus for the Natural Approach is a communicative syllabus.
    Types of learning techniques and activities
    · Comprehensible input is presented in the target language, using technqiues such as TPR, mime and gesture.
    · Group techniques are similar to Communicative Language Teaching.
    · Learners start to talk when they are ready.
    Procedure The Natural Approach adopts techniques and activities from different sources but uses them to provide comprehensible input. Total Physical Response

    Total Physical Response is a language learning method based on the coordination of speech and action. It was developed by James Asher, a professor of psychology at San Jose State University, California. It is linkedto the trace theory of memory, which holds that the more often or intensively a memory connection is traced, the stronger the memory will be.

    Approach Theory of language Asher does not directly adress his view of languag, but Richards and Rodgers state that the labeling and ordering of classroom activities seem to be building on the structural view of language.

    Theory of learning Asher's language learning theories seem similar to those of other behavioral psychologists. There are three principles he elaborates;

    Second language learning is parallel to first language learning and should reflect the same naturalistic processes

    · Listening should develop before speaking
    · Children respond physically to spoken language, and adult learners learn better if they do that too
    · Once listening comprehension has been developed, speech devlops naturally and effortlessly out of it.
    · Adults should use right-brain motor activities, while the left hemisphere watches and learns
    · Delaying speech reduces stress
    Objectives Teaching oral proficiency at a beginning level Using comprehension as a means to speaking · Using action-based drills in the imperative form

    The syllabus TPR uses a sentence-based grammatical syllabus. Activitis where a command is given in the imperative and the students obey the command isthe main activity in TPR.

    Situational Language Teaching Situational language teaching is a term not commonly used today, but it is an approach developed by British applied linguists in the 1930s to the 1960s, and which had an impact on language courses which survive in some still being used today.

    Approach Theory of language The Structural view of language is the view behind the Oral Approach and Situational Language Teaching. Speech was viewed as the basis of language and structure as being at the heart of speaking ability. This was a view similar to American structuralists, such as Fries, but the notion of the British applied linguists, such as Firth and Halliday, that structures must be presented in situations in which they could be used, gave its distinctiveness to Situational language teaching.

    Theory of learning The theory of learning underlying Situation Language Teaching is behaviorism, addressing more the processes, than the conditions of learning. It includes the following principles:

    · Language learning is habit-formation
    · Mistakes are bad and should be avoided, as they make bad habits
    · Language skills are learned more effectively if they are presented orally first, then in written form
    · Analogy is a better foundation for language learning than analysis
    · The meanings of words can be learned only in a linguistic and cultural context
    · Design
    · Objectives
    · a practical command of the four basic skills of a language, through structure
    · accuracy in both pronunciation and grammar
    · ability to respond quickly and accurately in speech situations
    · automatic control of basic structures and sentence patterns.
    Situational Language teaching uses a structural syllabusand a word list
    · A situational presentation of new sentence patterns
    · drills to practice the patterns
    · Procedures move from controlled to freer practice of structures
    · Procedures move from oral use of sentence patterns to their automatic use in speech, reading and writing
    Communicative Approach This is an approach to foreign language teaching which emphasizes the learner's ability to use the language appropriately in specific situations. It tries to make the learners 'communicatively competent'.

    Learners should be able to select a particular kind of language and should know when, where and with whom they should use it.

    One of the main challenges of the communicative approach is to integrate the functions of a language (information retrieval, problem solving, social exchanges) with the correct use of structures. The question is how to combine communicative fluency with formal accuracy. To answer that question, communicative teachers built on the notional-functional syllabus which organizes teaching units according to the communicative 'notions' a learner requires in order to communicate successfully.

    Other fields that can relate to the principles of the communicative approach are the cooperative learning approach, the learner-centred approach. The communicative approach was a reaction against the grammar-translation method and the audio-lingual method they did not stress the communicative uses of language.

    The Silent Way The Silent Way rested on cognitive rather than affective arguments, and was characterised by a problem-solving approach to learning. Gattegno (1972) held that it is in learners' best interests to develop independence and autonomy and cooperate with each other in solving language problems. The teacher is supposed to be silent - hence the name of the method - and must disabuse himself of the tendency to explain everything to them.

    The Silent Way came in for an onslaught of criticism. More specifically, it was considered very harsh, as the teacher was distant and, in general lines, the classroom environment was not conducive to learning. Suggestopedia Suggestopedia promised great results if we use our brain power and inner capacities. Lozanov (1979) believed that we are capable of learning much more than we think. Drawing upon Soviet psychological research on yoga and extrasensory perception, he came up with a method for learning that used relaxation as a means of retaining new knowledge and material. It stands to reason that music played a pivotal role in his method. Lozanov and his followers tried to present vocabulary, readings, role-plays and drama with classical music in the background and students sitting in comfortable seats. In this way, students became "suggestible."

    Of course, suggestopedia offered valuable insights into the "superlearning" powers of our brain but it was demolished on several fronts. For instance, what happens if our classrooms are bereft of such amenities as comfortable seats and Compact Disk players? Certainly, this method is insightful and constructive and can be practised from time to time, without necessarily having to adhere to all its premises. A relaxed mind is an open mind and it can help a student to feel more confident and, in a sense, pliable.

    by tahira_ghazanfar at yahoo dot com



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